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Wednesday, June 30, 2010


So. About an hour after posting my last blog, in which I was so happy and excited that surgery is drawing near, a bomb is dropped on my parade.
It was Monday afternoon. I called my supervisor to follow up on the fact that I'd never heard back from her regarding having a few hours off for my pre-op physical. She said she hadn't gotten back to me because it wasn't going to be possible. There was no one to cover for me. (Never mind the courtesy of calling either way, right?) I told her I was sorry, but that I couldn't reschedule it because I had to start my pre-op diet a few days afterward, and this had to be done first. That's when she said, "Actually, I don't have anyone to cover for you at all. You're not going to be able to have surgery." I was silent and then stammering... I know for a fact we have a float who isn't getting any hours right now and needs them. I was like, "excuse me?" when was she planning on telling me this? The day of? I was instantly burning hot, sweating, the room spinning, speechless... what do you mean, I can't have surgery?!?! (She doesn't know what the surgery is, and due to HIPAA laws, she can't ask). She said "there is just absolutely no authorized time off right now. we don't have the coverage." Could she have said this 3 weeks ago when I told her about it? Or any time since then? I told her, "I don't know what to say... I need surgery...". She had the nerve to say, "Doesn't your surgeon understand that you have a full time job which depends on you?". I said "yeah, but when a doctor decides you need surgery..." (trailing off)... "and I guess they thought 6 weeks advance notice should be fine for my employer." BOSS: "well first of all, it wasn't anywhere near 6 weeks... maybe 4." ME: "well it was a little over 5 1/2 weeks, but anyway...". Finally I said, "is there someone above you whom I can call and talk to regarding this?" And she said I could call her manager, but that I'd get the same answer.
So I called her manager and left a message. Then I called the Labor Board. I didn't think it was legal to deny me medical leave. Turns out, if there are less than 50 employees in a 75-mile radius, they can. Crap. Her manager calls me back and I explain the situation and say, "I was under the impression that it wasn't legal to deny me leave for surgery. Can you clarify that for me, please?" She said she'd call me right back. In the mean time, I'm calling my parents, husband, in-laws, etc., freaking out. My husband actually suggests I quit if they won't give it to me. But we totally can't afford that. My world is spinning and I'm doing my best not to start crying or have a panic attack.
I never heard from the manager again, but about an hour later, my supervisor called and asked if my life depending on having surgery. I said yes. She said they'd do everything they could to get coverage and that they'd have HR send me a packet about medical leave. I thanked her profusely and told her I know it's bad timing for her because we're understaffed and going through the process of being bought out by another company, but that it was absolutely necessary for me to have surgery now. I think the words, "is that legal?" freaked them out... I felt a lot better, but not 100%. But the next day, I got my signed time off request faxed to me. However, I'm still having my doctor put me on FMLA to help assure I don't get terminated...
Only those of you who've had WLS can imagine what horror I experienced! Imagine- 3 weeks before surgery! After all that work and planning! Thank goodness I'd already been on Xanax for a full week (see post before last), or I would have lost my mind.
SO, my pre-op physical with my primary doctor and my pre-op consult with my surgeon are both tomorrow, with xrays and bloodwork in between. It will probably be my last weigh-in, and then I'll have 4 days before my strict pre-op diet starts. In that 4 days, I plan to have half of my favorite burger, half of my favorite carne asada burrito, half of my favorite breakfast burrito, and some ice cream :) It's been months... and it'll be many more... so I am going to splurge (but in moderation) for those few days. Then it's on to my 2-week clear liquid & protein diet, during which I'm supposed to lose about 7 more pounds. The purpose of this diet is to shrink the liver so they can get to the stomach easier.
Til next time...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fast Approaching!

My surgery is 3 weeks from tomorrow! Which means my pre-op diet starts a week from tomorrow. My pantry is stocked with sugar free jello, bullion cubes, and canned tuna, albacore, and salmon. I need to pick up more crystal light, vitamin water zero, and muscle milk lite. The good news is I learned it's not a clear-liquid diet afterall; it's a very low-cal protein diet. 800 cals a day (which is what I was doing to lose the weight, except this one is strict. No wiggle room or cheating!) and most of the calories have to come from lean protein. So it's still gonna suck, but not as bad as I first thought.
I've gotten REALLY lazy. Haven't been to the gym in literally a month due to breathing problems (to be explained shortly). Also, since I got my surgery date, I haven't been too good about my diet. Not back to my old ways, but not nearly as strict. I've gained back 2-3 lbs. It seems like there's always an excuse to miss the gym. I got blisters on my feet and needed new shoes. It's too hot. I can't breathe (maybe a good excuse). And since we're currently sharing just one car, I can't go on the weekends because my husband's got the car at work. No one will take me. I was so dedicated to walking daily for a couple of months! Grrr.
My pre-op physical and pre-op consult are on Thursday. If you gain a pound, they cancel your surgery!!! So I have 3 days to lose 3 lbs...
On to the breathing-- for about a month now, I've been feeling what I call 'short of breath' and gulping for air. It doesn't stop me from walking, talking, etc. I just feel like my breaths aren't deep enough. Like I can't fill up my lungs. I'll spend several minutes forcing myself to yawn, and then finally I'll get a good one which feels like it satisfied me. A couple of minutes later, I'm at it again. It started out happening for about half an hour a day, then a little more, until it was 24/7. I was afraid to go to the doctor because I didn't want it to be something which would cause me to fail my pre-op physical. But at the same time, I didn't want to risk it complicating anesthesia during surgery. I was really freaking out about it, which made it worse. So a week ago, I finally went to urgent care. The doctor said I was moving air fine, and my oxygen rate was 99%. This is NOT asthma-related; I'm not wheezing and my inhalor doesn't help it. I mentioned to her that a lot of interenet research I'd done pointed to anxiety attacks. I don't feel that I'm nervous about surgery; I'm really excited. But it IS my first operation, so maybe subconciously, I am. More likely than that, though, is stress at work. The company I work for has filed bankruptcy and been bought out by a competitor. They've said they have "no plans to" close any locations or fire any phlebotomists, but that they can't give us anything in writing. One of our local labs was just shut down, and the phlebo let go, but they say it was an unrelated situation. The Boss has been on a firing streak as it is. And a few people have quit. My lab is one of the least busy in town, and I'm going to be off for a month in the middle of all of the changes that are going to be taking place with the new company taking over. It's an "at-will employer", so they CAN terminate you even when it's medical leave. So I guess I'm definitely stressed about that. She prescribed some anti-anxiety meds, and while the problem isn't gone, it's a lot better, and it doesn't send me into a panic when it happens. She also said she doesn't see any reason why it would interfere with my surgery. That in itself definitely alleviated some anxiety.
On a positive note, I was previously told that the portion of surgery I have to pay for would be about $4grand. I found out last week that it will actually only be $1400. So that'll help. I wish our tax return would hurry up and arrive so we can pay it. And get a car.
I think that's it for now. I'm sure I'll have an update after my pre-op physical, xrays, bloodwork, and surgery consultation later this week!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Weight Loss Surgery- Easy Way Out? Lazy? Cheating?

For starters, I finally got my surgery date!! It's just over a month away. July 20th! Which means I start the pre-op diet on July 6th. I want to have my favorite dinners before then... not in excess, but for the last time (at least for a while)... I MUST have teppanyaki, and my favorite sushi bar, and a bite or two of an Egg McMuffin. It'll all be in moderation. That's just 3 "bad" meals in 3 weeks, amongst dieting and exercise. Anyway, on to the topic at hand.
Am I taking the easy way out? Short answer: NO WAY! For the last 2 1/2 months, I've consumed under 800 calories a day! Taste ONE of my protein shakes and you'll see it's NOT easy! For my size, a typical diet reccommends cutting back to only 1500 cals a day. I'm doing half that. After surgery, it'll be closer to 300 cals a day. If you think it's easy fitting 70 grams of protein and 64 oz of water a day into a stomach that can only hold 3-4 oz every few hours, then sure! If going into surgery, having a tube down your throat, drain placed in your stomach, being cut upon, catheters, 80% of a major organ removed, anesthesia, IV's, xrays, breathing spirometers, wires and cables and machines, repeated blood tests and xrays and dr's visits sound easy to you, then yes, it's super easy! Eating protein first for the rest of your life- and then, if you're still hungry, a bite of vegetables. No more carbs, caffeine, carbonation, alcohol, sugar. Easy, right? Chewing each and every bite of food you consume for the rest of your life at least 30 times? Going to a friend's house, a party, a restaraunt and watching everyone else have appetizers, cocktails, delicious meals, desserts, and sodas, while you have a couple of bites of chicken or fish? Easy?! Living with a spouse who's NOT on a diet and eats anything, and smelling it? Or still fixing him dinner you can't even eat? Piece of cake. Speaking of cake: you can forget about that, too. Immediately after bariatric surgery, the patient is restricted to a clear liquid diet, which includes foods such as clear broth, diluted fruit juices or sugar-free gelatin desserts. This diet is continued until the gastrointenstinal tract has recovered somewhat from the surgery. The next stage provides a blended or pureed sugar-free diet for at least two weeks. This may consist of skimmed milk, cream of wheat, a small pat of margarine, protein drinks, cream soup, pureed fruit and mashed potatoes. Yum, right?! ;p HAVING A 3-OZ STOMACH ON THANKSGIVING: NOT EASY!
Is it cheating? Yep, I'm cheating death! Most gastric surgery patients are not having it because of laziness or vanity. Most of us have been told by our doctors, in no uncertain terms, that WE WILL DIE if we don't fix our weight, and many patients literally don't have the time to lose it "on their own", or aren't physically capable of getting out and getting moving. The term 'Morbidly Obese' means I'm so dangerously obese, it could kill me at any time, due to the other health problems it causes. The U.S. National Institutes of Health recommends bariatric surgery for obese people with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40, and for people with BMI 35 and serious coexisting medical conditions such as diabetes. However, research is emerging that suggests bariatric surgery could be appropriate for those with a BMI of 35 to 40 with no comorbidities or a BMI of 30 to 35 with significant comorbidities. Comorbidites are life-threatening conditions cause or exacerbated by obesity. Obesity can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, coronary artery disease (CAD), stroke, sleep apnea, acid reflux, joint pain/degeneration, infertility, and asthma, vascular disorders caused by restricted blood flow to the extremeties, endocrine disease, hormonal disorders, polycystic ovarian syndrome, gastrointestinal disease, liver disease, renal and urinary disease, skin and appendage conditions, musculoskeletal disease, respiratory disease, difficulty in conceiving or carrying a fetus, osteoarthritis, certain types of cancer, and even psychological conditions.
YES, I GOT MYSELF INTO THIS MESS. And I'm getting myself out of it. You don't have to agree with my decision, but please support it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Waiting, Waiting...

I am officially down 30 pounds! I've gotten so used to having my awful little protein shakes for lunch, that I hardly miss eating fast food every day. Weekends get me, though, and I usually have something "normal" in moderation. Dinners are pretty normal, as long as I stay under my daily 800 cals. It hasn't been all that terrible making smarter choices!
Yesterday, the RN from the bariatrics department said I will almost definnitely be getting surgery in mid to late July!!! ~happy dance~ and I should get my surgery date sometimes next week.
I walked nearly every single day in April and May. Sometimes half a mile, usually 1-2 miles, and sometimes 3 miles. But June has been... not as good. I even joined the gym because it's getting to warm to walk outside. Problem is, I was doing most of my walking on my lunch hour... and I can't go now that it's warmer, because I can't come back to work all smelly and sweaty. In the evening, I'm just tired and distracted and full of excuses.
I am SO MUCH more tired all the time since dieting/losing! Insomnia + chronic pain mean I HAVE to take meds to fall asleep; while they don't give me that "hangover" that a lot of sleep meds do, I'm still tired ALL day, every day without my caffeine. If you're new here, over the last 3 months, I weaned from 80oz or more of diet Pepsi daily, all the way down to 12 oz daily, and then onto just one cup of coffee in the am instead, and now I'm on almost NO caffeine. An occasional diet Pepsi during the week and always a soda on the weekend. But caffeine AND carbomnation are contraband after surgery, so I'm trying to get it under control now.
I always thought a 30-lb loss would be pretty major as far as appearance. But I guess when you're obese, it's not. A couple of people have said my clothes are looser around the tummy and chest, and my mom said she's starting to see the loss in my face. I imagined it would be so drastic! I do pull up my scrub pants constantly, and I have to wear a belt with my jeans. And there's room to spare in my bra. But as far as overall appearance, 30 lbs is not noticeable. Whether it's someone that sees me daily, weekly, or monthly, nobody's mentioned it except for close friends who know how much I've lost... if it was really visible, people who DON'T know I'm dieting would be commenting, too. Oh, well. More drive to keep losing, I guess!
It' SO not fair that I'm allergic to milk. The protein shakes my husband occasionally buys at the gym taste just like real milkshakes. Mine taste like soggy cardboard. The 3 friends who've said "let me try a sip" of my shakes make gagging noises and faces, and gain new respect for my diet, lol.
I think that's all I've got for now; time to clock back in from lunch. I'm still in need of everyone's prayers! Thank you all so much.

PS- I need new shoes :p The $9 tennies from walmart just aren't cutting it. I've already gone through 2 pairs of insole inserts. One more week til payday... I hope hubby will spring for some this weekend :) At any given time, I have 6-8 blisters on the ball of EACH foot from walking in crappy cheap shoes. It certainly can't be good for my back, either. And the blisters definitely play a part in finding excuses to skip the gym. Plus, I have to pause the treadmill every half mile or so, take off my shoes, and re-adjust the inserts, lol. ew.
Last night, I took both dogs on a walk (seperately; the 6-yr old Chihuahua is a perfect leash-walker, but the 6-month old Bassett Hound does NOT get it yet). The BH kept lurching forward at random, every other minute, and it literally popped my shoulder out of the socket for a second. It hurt SO MUCH this morning. Hope the hubby starts walking with me to help control his dog :p

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Guess I Better Check In

Pretty frustrated. Met my pre-scheduling goal last Wednesday. Waited til today for the bariatric RN to get back from vacation. She said that June & July's surgery schedules are full, and I have to wait up to 2 months until the August schedule opens up to get a surgery date. Are you kidding me?!?! UGH. And I have to go in every 2 weeks to be weighed.
Something most of you won't understand-- I was pretty much only able to lose that 25 lbs because I had a short-term goal, with a short time limit and an immediate reward- scheduling surgery. It's easier when you can push yourself to a short-term goal like that. In the week since neeting my goal, I've been really bad about dieting and I haven't exercised in over a week. I just keep finding excuses and putting it off. And yes, I put a few pounds back on. And I'm sick and tired of people saying, "see? you can lose the weight yourself". Yeah, but look what's already happened. And "you can't let yourself slip like that, stop being lazy, get back on track". That really doesn't help at all. In fact it's pretty infuriating. Why did I lose my drive/motivation so quickly? And nobody understands this stuff except others who have fought with their weight like this.
I'm just so mad that I am waiting up to 2 months to even get a date, and that date will be 4-8 weeks out!!! I don't know if I can mantain my weight that long!! For 2 months, I did my walking every day, and suddenly I'm "over it". WHY?! I'm too tired, too busy, etc... but I HAVE to go to the gym tonight. For 2 mos. I was excited to work out and bummed to miss my daily walk. What happened?! I'm just so frustrated all together.